Instead of getting embroiled in the ongoing drama (SGUF PRIDE btw, we totally rule), I thought I'd focus on something more productive this afternoon...
Frist off, I've been a veggie for 20 years and change now, and not to toot my own, but I am GOD EMPEROR OF KITCHEN and all your base belong to us. I'm something of an idiot savant in the kitchen, a snazzy self made chef. I make the ladies swoon, I make the men feel inadequate with my mean stir fry Fu. I got into cooking early on, and asian cusines are where you go if you've got a flare for cookin' and a veggie bent. In recent years, my Thai buddies have indulged me, with great patience and restraint on their end, and have allowed me to hang out and play along in their kitchens.
There is NOTHING more repulsive and offensive than the ubiquitous brown sauce
stir fry, it is a pale and insulting imitation of real food. Okay, there are more repulsive and offensive things in the world, but not in the world of stir frys.
Not so much the veges, but the major elements you use for flavor.
It's all in the prep, you can go all willy nilly half way through, but you've got to take the time to chop, dice, and finely slice your ingredients. What follows is my base, from there I can take it in many directions and turn it into; Pad Thai, any Thai curry (fuck any Thai dish really), or Vietnamese and Malaysian style, or any kind of Chinese (the real deal, not the crap you find here), Korean, or just go 'po man style and dice up whatever you've got before it rots and toss it in, or whatever you can afford.
I start any style stir fry Thai style. Minced, or crushed and pressed garlic (and we're talking A LOT, like more than you can imagine, none of this two or three clove bullshit) in a bit of oil. Followed by A TON of shallots, not minced, but finely chopped. Sometimes onion too, or onion substituted for shallots if shallots can't be found. Any onion will do (rakkyo, leek, chive/green), I just toss in whatever I have or whatever I feel like. Now comes the tricky bit; pickled radish or galangal. Even well stocked asian markets may not carry it. It is very finely diced galangal pickled and salted. Various brands, various qualities. It's the secret ingredient. So secret, it's hard to come by. Shhhhhh....
Other essential flavor ingredients added at various points;
- Soy sauce (duh), but sparringly
- Sugar. Any kind, but palm is tops. Either palm cake sautéed in at the beginning, or pre crushed palm or regular sprinkled in on the noodles, if noodles are part of the stir fry. Or at any point if no noodles are going in, the only caveat is allowing it to liquify.
- Eh, lemongrass if you're up for it. Not necessarily vital
- And at the very end; Fish sauce. Can't let it cook, just a splash, very tiny amount at the very last minute. If you love southeast asian cuisine but hate the smell of stinky fishy feet, turn away and don't take a wiff, and pretend it's not there. BUT DO IT!!!
- Squeezed lime or lemon from wedges only moments before it goes in 'yer gullet
It's all about getting 5 things in perfect harmony; sweet, salty, sour, savory, and spicy. You can do anything you want, go nuts with your stir fry, but it comes down to getting those 5 things just right, and not over doing it (for instance; the more soy you add, the more sugar you'll need, and the more pungent you have to make it... Less is more. Less is always more my friends. No need for a cold war arms race in your wok. Less sodium and empty sugar calories too. It's just about the balance of flavors, and less is always more, especially when starting out; sprinkles and splashes, not cups and tablespoons).